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torifile
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2006-10-31, 13:35

As the mid-term elections come up in the US, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm not sure I trust our voting system. I'm not a conspiracy theorist in that I don't believe that there's some vast rigging going on but I do believe that there are many votes that go uncounted or incorrectly counted. This troubles me because things are so close in this country, WRT to party votes, and errors can turn the election.

So, what do you all think? Anything between "it's a conspiracy!!!!" to "nothing to worry about" is cool. Just curious.

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ast3r3x
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2006-10-31, 13:46

I trusted voting around here because we use mechanical machines, and I know the people who are in charge of the voting stations. I heard it was a 2:1 vote for R during the last election in my...I don't recall if it was county or district. Hopefully I'll hear another stat after this round, I'm curious if peoples opinion around here is changing or not.

Honestly if I were a place using diebold machines/computers I'd probably use an absentee ballot.
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billybobsky
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2006-10-31, 13:47

Obviously there is something to worry about. It isn't proven technology, and it has been proven to be hackable.

This isn't suggesting that paper ballots are any more resistant to false results, but rather we have diligently pursued means of ensuring their accuracy over the last 2.3 centuries.
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PKIDelirium
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2006-10-31, 13:48

Unfortunately, my county is using the new Diebold touchscreen computer systems this year.
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torifile
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2006-10-31, 13:50

Quote:
Originally Posted by PKIDelirium View Post
Unfortunately, my county is using the new Diebold touchscreen computer systems this year.
God bless Ohio. Luckily Ohio isn't one of those states where there are a bunch of close races. (Blackwell is running for office. AND HE'S RUNNING THE ELECTIONS. Conflict of interest? Nah...)

I also don't want people to forget the obstacles being put up to voting like requirements for registering, etc. What are your states doing to make voting harder?

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bassplayinMacFiend
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2006-10-31, 14:53

No obstacles in my state (CT). In fact, you can still register to vote until end of day today. We're moving to a new paper/scantron balloting system this year. Fill in the bubbles, then the paper gets scanned to speed up vote counts. Still have the actual paper ballot as backup, just in case.
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alcimedes
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2006-10-31, 14:56

Well, the voting system has always been corrupt, and both parties do what they can to help their side out. So there's always some mistrust there for me.

However, with the electronic voting it's reached a whole new level. You can have completely fabricated results with zero way to prove that they're not legitimate, which to me brings us to a whole new era of vote rigging.

And I don't think it will be one party that's rigging the deck in their favor. People are easy to corrupt, regardless of political party.

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Shades of Blue
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2006-10-31, 16:48

I think there's some funny business in every election (dead people casting absentee ballots and whatnot), but usually not enough to change the result. Certainly there's room for improvement, but I still regard the results as legitimate. What's the alternative? If you want to have input into the government, you have to work within the system.

Here in the U.S. state of Rhode Island, we use the type of ballot where you connect an arrow and then a machine reads the ballots and counts. Since we're actually marking a physical ballot, there can be a manual recount if someone suspects that a machine screwed up.

(There's an example of the ballot I'm talking about here: http://www.gwu.edu/~action/2004/ball...30204ricd1.jpg.)
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rminkler
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2006-10-31, 16:49

I highly recommend listening to today's "Democracy Now" podcast. It's about issues with voting and the election, and it's very good.
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BarracksSi
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2006-10-31, 17:18

I've voted via electronic machine only once, and I didn't like it.

That backup of counting paper ballots has got to be the only, or the most, reliable way to make sure the results are counted correctly.

I won't say that any small amount won't make a difference, either. Votes have been way too close already.

Tangentially, it's also why I refuse to play games like video poker. Mechanical machines can be rigged, true, but electronic machines can be merely programmed. There's a "stack the lighted blocks" game that I'm convinced is fraudulent (you've probably seen them at video arcades & movie theaters with high-dollar items like iPods for prizes).
http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/arcade/...lls-185060.php

A friend of mine will pump a few bucks into one at our usual movie theater, and she (and I) have gotten extremely close to winning. We just thought it was our bad luck. She's also talked to one of the theater employees who stacked the top block correctly, then it paused, and the block MOVED OFF THE STACK, losing the game. Horseshit.
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alcimedes
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2006-10-31, 17:46

Supposedly video slot machines will show the jackpot payouts a line above or below the actual payout significantly more often than on the actual payout line.

Makes you think that über jackpot is all the more likely when it really isn't.

I don't think they ever found a way to have a mechanical unit show payouts on the upper and lower lines with more frequency than the payout line, but I could be wrong.

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Caveat Emptor - Latin for tough titty
I tend to interpret things in the way that's most hilarious to me
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intlplby
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2006-10-31, 17:47

our voting system is an absolute disaster....

what we need is an electronic voting system whereby citizens can somehow log back in after the voting to double check their votes.

the mechanical voting machine situation is a disaster.... there is no reason that we couldn't have a quick and secure electronic voting system.
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torifile
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2006-10-31, 18:00

Quote:
Originally Posted by rminkler View Post
I highly recommend listening to today's "Democracy Now" podcast. It's about issues with voting and the election, and it's very good.
I listen to that podcast every day. Personally, some of their stories are bit much for me (I generally skip the interview part) but it's on my list of things to listen to all the time. I was actually listening to it when I started this thread.

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alcimedes
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2006-10-31, 18:25

Quote:
Originally Posted by intlplby View Post
our voting system is an absolute disaster....

what we need is an electronic voting system whereby citizens can somehow log back in after the voting to double check their votes.

the mechanical voting machine situation is a disaster.... there is no reason that we couldn't have a quick and secure electronic voting system.
Can you think of a way to allow anonymous voting that is also verifiable?
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Chinney
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2006-10-31, 21:05

I agree that there has always been some level of shenanigans around election time in some districts, but not enough, until recently, to generally undermine confidence in democracy. I think that events in recent elections have started to make people think more seriously about the possibility of organized general engineering of results. The responses on this thread demonstrate a fair level of distrust.

I just don't know myself, but I do feel suspicious and will feel even more suspicious it the Republicans make a miraculous comeback on mid-term election night.

When there's an eel in the lake that's as long as a snake that's a moray.
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digitalprimate
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2006-10-31, 21:31

Quote:
Originally Posted by alcimedes View Post
Can you think of a way to allow anonymous voting that is also verifiable?
If you asked me that question last year, I'd probably go on and brag about electronic voting in Belgium, where at the polling station every voter receives an anonymous magnetic stripe card. This has to be inserted into the voting computer and the card registers the choice. It is then put into a sealed ballot box. The results then can be recounted (if needed or counted anyway, I'm not sure).

In theory this looks like a good system, however a group against this type of electronic voting says that it is opaque and nobody but a few IT-people can check the results and know how the system really works, as opposed to voting on paper, where every citizen can see and verify each single voting ballot.

But how about voting per computer where after final confirmation of his/her vote the citizen receives two pieces of paper (like copy cards) as a printout. On both pieces the choice has been indicated. One piece goes into a sealed ballot box, the other is for the voter. At the end the votes are verifiable because the computer count has to match the ballot box count. Maybe on each "ballot box" paper, there could be a barcode too, which links it to that particular voting computer, polling station and voting session (but not a specific voter, duh). It could then speed up the verifying process.
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alcimedes
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2006-10-31, 21:47

But then you've thrown a physical piece of paper in the mix, which we're already doing now.

I'm saying that I don't think there's any way to have a trustworthy fully digital voting system, since for privacy reasons you can't expect a voter to validate their choice.

Google is your frenemy.
Caveat Emptor - Latin for tough titty
I tend to interpret things in the way that's most hilarious to me
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Majost
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2006-10-31, 22:03

Man, I miss those good ole voting mechanical monsters that they have back in Pennsylvania.


Here in Chicago, this is the first election where we're using touch screen machines. Despite the troubles in the Preliminaries, they seem to be doing things (almost) right. I already voted, and the system is easy to use, and verifiable. I was afraid of the mis-aligned touch-screen issue that I often have with stupid ATMs (I'll try to push $60 withdrawal and end up with 80 or 40... and without any chance to correct it), but that never once happened - and they asked if my choices were correct before submitting them. Then, once you're done voting, it prints your choices and scrolls it past you, giving you one last chance to check your votes and change anything if you want. So, there's a written record that was verified by the voter. Of course, in the primaries, they lost some of the ballots ... but that was probably more due to the fact that it's *easy* to lose a memory cartridge of thousands of votes. Try doing that with thousands of paper ballots. Uh, yeah, I think they all fell under my sofa cushion.

Then, they're mandated verify 5% of the votes against the electronic record. I'm a little rusty on my Probabilities, but I believe that even if there would be a winner determined by only 250 votes out of an electorate of 1 million (0.025%), there's a 1 in 250,000 chance that they don't catch one of those 251 fraudulent (or faulty) votes that would have falsely swayed the election. Of course, they'd have to take great care to ensure that there is no doubt that every single one of those 5% (50,000 ballots) were accurately checked and randomly chosen, but this is an extreme case.
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Crusader
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2006-11-04, 11:33

I'm serving as a chief election judge in my home county, so I've had a pretty good experience working with the machines, a lot of people like them because of the ease of use and such. Physical security is also pretty good, the machines are secured at the election office and then transported to the voting site a few days ahead of time, we then secure them in a locked closet at whatever voting location they are at. As for the whole side door being opened by a mini-bar key thing, the door won't open past 20 some odd degrees with the divider up, you'd have to move it to get access to the memory card. Someone messing with the side-divider will draw attention.

Now that's not to say everything is perfect... I'm worried that the source code hasn't been seen by outside eyes. Now a few machines are randomly pulled out and run during the election time with fake votes to check the accuracy, but Maryland's election board has been proven to be a mess. My local election board is great, we weren't the one's who fucked up the primary in this state, but then again we have like 1/24th of voters in the state as compared to the much, much larger counties.

I voted via absentee ballot, so hopefully it will be counted.

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scratt
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2006-11-04, 12:40

For those of you that have not seen this video...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzBI33kOiKc

I was stunned, not suprised, but strangely stunned...

I have doubted for a long time that the last two elections in the US have been valid results, and now I am certain.. But I also have to wonder if any elections, *anywhere* are *real* anymore...

'Remember, measure life by the moments that take your breath away, not by how many breaths you take'
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chucker
 
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2006-11-04, 12:47

Wikipedia has more about Clinton Curtis.
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Brave Ulysses
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2006-11-04, 13:08

the only thing rigged is that we are stuck with a 2 party system.
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alcimedes
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2006-11-04, 13:17

Funny part is it's usually the party in power (Dem. or Rep.) trying to keep electronic voting, and the challenger that's fighting them. Makes you feel warm and cuddly.

Google is your frenemy.
Caveat Emptor - Latin for tough titty
I tend to interpret things in the way that's most hilarious to me
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chucker
 
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2006-11-04, 18:39

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brave Ulysses View Post
the only thing rigged is that we are stuck with a 2 party system.
Arguably, that's only the case because so many — including you, evidently — accept it as the status quo.
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torifile
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2006-11-04, 18:57

I voted today using the good old fill-in-the-circles and then scan ballot. Of course, there are no races that are even competitive in Durham, so it didn't matter. I did take comfort in the fact that there was a distinct paper trail, though. I'd be very wary of voting without one. And I'm still amazed that we don't have a system where we can vote electronically AND have paper ballots. It's shocking and reeks of dishonesty.

If it's not red and showing substantial musculature, you're wearing it wrong.
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scratt
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2006-11-04, 21:44

Quote:
Originally Posted by alcimedes View Post
Funny part is it's usually the party in power (Dem. or Rep.) trying to keep electronic voting, and the challenger that's fighting them. Makes you feel warm and cuddly.
That is a very good point.
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Moogs
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2006-11-05, 12:47

Don't trust it at all. And there doesn't have to be an all-encompassing conspiracy in order for people to get cheated at all levels of electoral government. Even if 10 important races are rigged (say 3 mayoral races here, two governor's races there, and a few congressional races), because the new technology enables their voting officials to do so without getting caught, it's enough to have the entire system banned, Dieboldt audited, etc etc.

Everything about this country's political direction is wrong right now. The voting mechanisms need to change, term limits need to change big time, campaign advertising needs to be banned unless you speak only about yourself, corporate lobbying needs to be hugely reformed to the point that it's publicly visible and practically non-existent, and above all else, pork-barrel voting must die right now or we will never get an honest evaluation of our politicians' work record.

How in the world can we evaluate a congressional candidate when every good thing they voted for, also means they -by definition voted for against 10 other bad things or things that might be perceived as bad. The entire system is rigged so they can hammer on each other during elections.

A vote for this was a vote against that. "John Smith voted FOR Bill #3422 which made it easier for doctors in Kalamazoo to perform abortions" What they don't tell you is Bill #4322 also might've paved the way for better health coverage in Kalamazoo, a new highway through Kalamazoo, and a tax break for small business owners in the restaurant business. It's all so fucking convoluted that there's nothing cut and dry anymore.

How about this: No bill can be introduced where its minor provisions are not directly related to its major provisions. IOW, environmental bills cannot contain line items on unrelated social programs, business programs, military provisions, or whatever. Right now if you look at how the system works, most of these bills are total cluster-fucks. I understand there's only 24 hours in a day and 365 days a year, so you can't have an individual vote on every item, but group the items in a sensible way and if something isn't going to make it in, it isn't going to make it in. So much of this crap is just common sense but we never demand it of anyone so they just keep fucking up year after year.

[and the other obvious part of the solution: congress shouldn't be voting on half the crap they're voting on - state legislatures should be doing that individually wherever possible].

...into the light of a dark black night.

Last edited by Moogs : 2006-11-05 at 13:02.
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torifile
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2006-11-05, 13:12

Moogs, that'd be great. But riders and pork are the bread and butter of the gov't.

I've also got to say that I was standing line in front of someone who said "I'm going to vote straight party republican as long as Nifong isn't a republican". Straight party voting needs to get thrown out the window. Anyway, she had as much say over this vote as I did, which is scary in some ways, but very nice in others. If our votes are actually counted...

If it's not red and showing substantial musculature, you're wearing it wrong.
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Shades of Blue
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2006-11-05, 13:56

Quote:
Originally Posted by torifile View Post
I've also got to say that I was standing line in front of someone who said "I'm going to vote straight party republican as long as Nifong isn't a republican". Straight party voting needs to get thrown out the window. Anyway, she had as much say over this vote as I did, which is scary in some ways, but very nice in others. If our votes are actually counted...
I can understand straight line party voting, though. If your opinions on the issues that you care predominantly about ("your voting issues") coincide mostly with the general philosophy of one of the parties, then it makes sense to vote for that party's candidates. When I vote, I'm voting for issues, not personalities.

It's too bad if people use party as an excuse not to find out anything about the candidates (because sometimes they disagree with the party on the issues you care about), but I'd rather have people voting for a general party philosophy than voting because one of the candidates had an affair or said something bad about somebody into a microphone 25 years ago, or something.
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chucker
 
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2006-11-05, 14:11

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shades of Blue View Post
I can understand straight line party voting, though. If your opinions on the issues that you care predominantly about ("your voting issues") coincide mostly with the general philosophy of one of the parties, then it makes sense to vote for that party's candidates. When I vote, I'm voting for issues, not personalities.
So much for the theory.

In practice, the larger the party, the more diverse views of individual candidates inside it differ. Both the Democrats and Republicans have a very wide range of different and in some aspect incompatible views. There's a reason for those "DINO" and "RINO" terms…

Quote:
It's too bad if people use party as an excuse not to find out anything about the candidates (because sometimes they disagree with the party on the issues you care about), but I'd rather have people voting for a general party philosophy than voting because one of the candidates had an affair or said something bad about somebody into a microphone 25 years ago, or something.
True.
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